Where do you stay?
We stay primarily in private campgrounds. Occasionally, especially when we are destination-bound far away, we free camp/boondock/wild camp. In France we took advantage of free Aires or rest stops overnight.
Why in campgrounds and not free camping every night?
We appreciate the amenities in a campground that make Charlie living a bit easier such as electrical plug-in, dishwashing stations, and toilet/shower facilities. They also tend to feel safer with night guards, fences, etc. when needed. In some countries it is illegal to free camp while in others if you are discreet and/or ask property owners if you may stay, it’s not a problem.
What do you look for in a campground?
We have levels of criteria – if we’re planning to stay just overnight, then a semi-level pitch with electricity and average toilet facilities is tolerable, but if we’re planning to stay awhile (from 4-14 days usually), we’d like a level pitch with access to clean facilities and strong wifi. We tend to choose campgrounds a bit outside of town rather than right in town as they’re more likely to be safer and quieter. We also like campgrounds with a bit of nature – trees or shrubs that define spaces are preferred, but we’ve adapted to know they’re not necessary. Having trees trimmed so we don’t scrape Charlie has made it onto our preference list. That being said, we relied on tree shade as a relief from the sun in some climates. We sometimes choose campsites because their location is convenient to the town or the road access is easy.
What do you need to free camp?
We turn our fridge to gas rather than running off the battery when we’re traveling or electrical while in camp. At night we use our headlamps and small lantern to save on auxiliary battery use. We have yet to free camp for more than a night or two.
What would it take for you to free camp more?
We think a solar panel or two would make a big difference to free camping. We just had our refrigerator re-hauled so it is more efficient to run off gas, and we’d have to be comfortable with using our water and waste systems more.
How do you find campgrounds in Europe?
Word of mouth from other campers is the best – we went places we wouldn’t have otherwise because of a good recommendation from another camper. Generally though, we find campground signs on our navigating app maps.me, in tandem with a Dutch campground finder app called Camper Contacts. We inherited dated yet still useful British camping club books, and we dig deeper into recommended sites using the internet when we can. We often use TripAdvisor for specific recommendations and Google for images and information.